Understanding Student Perceptions of Arizona State University's Downtown Campus Built and Social Environments and their Perceived Impact on Student's Wellbeing

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The United Nations projects that 68% of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050. As urban areas continue to grow, it is critical to consider how cities

The United Nations projects that 68% of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050. As urban areas continue to grow, it is critical to consider how cities will be redesigned and reimagined to ensure that they are healthy and beneficial places that can properly support their residents. In addition, college students have been identified as a vulnerable population in regards to overall wellness. In Downtown Phoenix, one the biggest elements of concern will be the built environment and its influence on wellbeing as the city itself and Arizona State University’s Downtown campus populations continue to expand. Given this, the purpose of this study is two-fold. I applied Social-Cognitive Theory as a framework to first, understand student perceptions of the built and social environment and second, explore how perceptions of the built and social environment influence student wellbeing. I used semi-structured interviews and participant-driven photo elicitation to answer these questions. The study took place at Taylor Place Mall on Arizona State University’s Downtown Campus and participants were students who attend classes on the ASU Downtown Campus. Findings displayed the need for design considerations to focus on the safety of students, creating places to gather for social connection, and overall a desire for design to focus on place making and place meaning, as well as other themes. Understanding more clearly how the built and social environment guides behaviors and social opportunities can help urban designers, landscape architects, and community developers better plan healthier environments that foster productive behaviors, create meaningful spaces, and prove to be sustainable in future years.